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Ex-soldier apologizes to Iraqi family for raping, killing

  • Story Highlights
  • "I wish that I could take it back," says man convicted in 2006 attack
  • Steven Green must serve life in prison without parole
  • Surviving family members testify against Green at hearing
  • Matriarch lunges at Green while leaving witness stand
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(CNN) -- A U.S. soldier convicted of murdering an Iraqi family spoke out for the first time Thursday, issuing a public apology for his crimes.

Former U.S. soldier Steven Green got life in prison after being convicted of murdering four Iraqis.

Former U.S. soldier Steven Green got life in prison after being convicted of murdering four Iraqis.

Steven Green, who escaped the death penalty this month, told relatives of the victims that he is "truly sorry for what I did in Iraq."

"I helped to destroy a family and end the lives of four of my fellow human beings, and I wish that I could take it back, but I cannot," Green said, reading a statement at a victim impact hearing. "And, as inadequate as this apology is, it is all I can give you."

The family refused to accept the apology.

Green was found guilty in U.S. District Court in Kentucky of raping a 14-year-old girl and murdering her, her parents and her 6-year-old sister in the town of Yusufiya, about 20 miles south of Baghdad, in 2006.

A jury could not reach a unanimous decision on the death penalty, which means the judge is required under law to impose a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Green will be sentenced September 4, but the victim impact hearing was held Thursday so surviving members of the al-Janabi family could testify before they return to Iraq.

They decried Green's sentence and testified about how the heinous crime had shattered their lives and how it will haunt them always.

Green said that he knows "you wish I was dead, and I do not hold that against you. If I was in your place, I am convinced beyond any doubt that I would feel the same way."

He added, "I know that I have done evil, and I fear that the wrath of the Lord will come upon me on that day. But, I hope that you and your family at least can find some comfort in God's justice."

The wailing family matriarch, Hajia al-Janabi, lunged at Green as she left the witness stand, denouncing him as a coward, a criminal and a stigma on the United States, according to Louisville's Courier-Journal newspaper.

Security officers restrained the distressed woman, the newspaper said.

Another family member, Mahdi al-Janabi, said Green had lost the ability to distinguish between terrorists and Iraqi civilians.

Green was tried in a civilian court in Paducah, Kentucky, because he had been discharged from the Army by the time his crimes surfaced.

He was the last of five soldiers who served in the 101st Airborne Division, based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, to be convicted for the crimes and their subsequent cover-up.

The others -- Spec. James Barker, Sgt. Paul Cortez, Pfc. Jesse Spielman and Pfc. Bryan Howard -- received sentences ranging from 27 months to 110 years, with the possibility of parole in 10 years in the most severe cases.

Green said he now sees the Iraq war as "intrinsically evil, because killing is intrinsically evil."

He was sorry, he said, that he ever had anything to do with either.

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